Twitter chairman Omid Kordestani says that even the harshest, most painful political tweets have a place on Twitter — whether we like it or not.
“How do you personally react to that, it’s painful to read these tweets — that’s our society, you have to have room for all these voices,” Kordestani said at the Bloomberg technology conference. “The discourse is important for democracy; instead of tanks and troops rolling in the streets you have this discussion happening.”
That comment was a response to questions about a lot of anti-immigration rhetoric tweeted out by many throughout the U.S. presidential election. Kordestani, as the chairman of Twitter’s board of directors, himself said he is directly in contact with the executives at Twitter helping guide the future of the company. He says his role is to be “helpful” to the company and go there several days a week, advising on “tough decisions” and other processes like recruitment, he said.
So, naturally, he has to keep to the party line of the company — which is to be a place where public discourse can happen freely, much to the chagrin of many Twitter observers. Throughout its existence, Twitter has seen itself serve as a launchpad for discussion around international events like the Arab Spring and other large-scale events (including the 2008 presidential election). Twitter has also constantly had issues with users dealing with harassment and threats on the platform.
“In our case, we are already seeing this, it’s happening live every day,” Kordestani said. “It’s wonderful to see the dialog that happens between them, between them and our citizens, commentary from around the world. Our focus is to do a better and better job of that. To integrate live video, take advantage of Periscope, be at these events, bring our expertise from the media teams, our team on the moments team, bring out the best of the dialog that’s happening. A lot of it is about, how this engaged audience interacts with each other. we’re already seeing the candidates use the medium to comment on each other.”
Still, he has a duty to stick to the company’s — and new CEO Jack Dorsey’s — vision. Kordestani, who was at one point considered for the CEO position before the board finally decided on Dorsey, previously served as the chief business officer of Google. Kordestani said he wanted to be around to help Dorsey and the company following his long tenure at Google, which is why he took the chairman job.
One particularly interesting note was his stance on whether Twitter could be an acquisition target, given the news today that Microsoft bought LinkedIn — another huge professional social network — for $26.2 billion. Kordestani, much as expected, gave a sort of non-answer but left the door open for potential discussions. (After all, a “no” may seem final and he’d have to contradict himself later if Twitter did decide to sell itself.)
“As a board you have to be accountable to shareholders and evaluate every opportunity,” Kordestani said. “As a management team and leadership team you’re focused on doing a great job every day. The focus of the company is gonna be innovating and refining the product.To focus on creators and developers. All that is something you have to have a religion around every day. Whatever may play out, be it partnership or other opportunities, we’ll evaluate.”